Bloomington resident Andy McManis always had a love for fashion but spent years in a finance position in Arizona before a friend suggested she opened her own boutique. With little hesitation, McManis decided to start a fashion boutique as a side business.
On Nov. 24, McManis’ first brick-and-mortar boutique, Skirt and Satchel, opened on West Kirkwood Avenue. Skirt and Satchel is a boutique that sells women's and men’s apparel, bags and home and body gifts.
As a businesswoman, she said she struggled to find clothes that fit her well and also matched her style. After struggling to find a place that fit her lifestyle, she opened her own.
While creating her business, she made sure to include elements that many boutiques lack. She said she aims to be inclusive for all shoppers no matter their race, size or potential disability.
McManis said that when she is choosing products for the store, she tries to buy things that look good on all bodies and skin tones. Instead of bright reds, she aims for berries, which she said can flatter all skin types.
“When I was putting this store together, I did not think I was doing something others did not,” McManis said. “I was shocked to find out that everyone did not think this when purchasing clothes and setting up a store.”
The store carries product in sizes small to 3XL.
“There is no plus-size section, and every product comes in all these sizes because people deserve to all shop together,” McManis said. “When people go shopping with their friends, they shouldn’t have to go to do all these different stores and sections to try on clothes.”
One of the two dressing rooms in the store is larger than what is required by the American Disability Act in order to comfortably accommodate customers that may have a disability.
IU student Haley Mellen works at Skirt and Satchel and said McManis has taught her about the importance of being inclusive while running a business and that the store is inclusive in several different ways.
“Anyone could walk in there and find something that they like or fits their lifestyle,” Mellen said. “It is important to have a message you’re sending to your customer.”
The store originally opened in McManis' home state of Arizona and was known as Vox. At first, she would only work one day a week, mostly with the online boutique, and still worked in a finance position, but she then decided to focus on her business full time.
McManis moved to Bloomington in August 2015 for her husband to attend IU for a graduate program. After moving, she began opening Skirt and Satchel as the occasional pop-up and growing it as an online boutique.
When she moved from Arizona, McManis said it was hard to find a group of people that could help her know Bloomington and start her business. She began a membership at Cowork, a space in Bloomington that is made for small business owners and freelance workers. Here, people can work alongside other people that they otherwise would not.
After finding a community that helped support her, McManis said the opening of the store has been successful.
“On our opening day, we had people in here from open to close,” McManis said. “I’m pleased with the success.”
Along with having a successful business, McManis said the goal of Skirt and Satchel is to give people a comfortable shopping experience where they feel motivated to achieve their goals and also feel at home.
“Everything we sell focuses on empowering people and making them feel more able to achieve their goals,” McManis said.